Mary Lynn Jones

Mary Lynn F. Jones is a Washington-based writer. Her work has also appeared in The Chicago Tribune, National
Journal
, the Washington Business Journal and Barron's Guide to the Most
Competitive Colleges
. A native Washingtonian, Jones has been a regular
political commentator for WMAL-AM and has made numerous radio and television
appearances, including on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation"
and Fox
News Channel. Mary Lynn received her master's degree in journalism from
Columbia University and her bachelor's degree from Wellesley College.

Recent Articles

Flouted Convention

There are plenty of people eating crow today as pundits, pollsters and politicians who had predicted a Howard Dean victory in Iowa realized just how far off they were. But all of the signs that political experts usually rely on had suggested a Dean win. That means experts should throw out conventional wisdom as they look ahead to the New Hampshire primary next week. The Iowa caucuses have traditionally been about organizational strength. By that standard, Dean and Dick Gephardt should have placed better than third and fourth, respectively. Dean had college students and other volunteers in his camp (think of the success of his Meetup groups). And Gephardt relied on his labor base. One possible explanation, then, is that their supporters got lost on the way to the caucuses. But a more plausible theory is that organization mattered less because many voters made up their minds so late in the campaign. According to a National Election Pool entrance poll, 42 percent of voters made up their...

Come Together

Democrats need to stick to their guns on Capitol Hill. As lawmakers and political observers have suggested -- and as a recent numerical analysis by CQ Weekly confirmed -- Congress is at its most partisan level in decades (except, perhaps, for the 1995 session after Republicans took over Capitol Hill). In the Senate, Republicans voted with their party on 94 percent of votes; Democrats voted along party lines 85 percent of the time. In the House, Republicans held ranks on 91 percent of votes; Democrats did the same 87 percent of instances. For House Democrats, the 87-percent unity figure is the highest since 1960. (In 1998, for example, it was 82 percent.)That's a credit to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who, in her first year as leader, has made it clear to House Democrats that they must toe the party line if they want to have any chance of stopping the Bush agenda. She's also made the GOP sweat out some tough votes, particularly on Medicare reform. Senate Democrats would do...

New Fear

It's a new year, but Republicans in Washington are using the same screwy logic as ever. President Bush's fiscal year 2005 budget will once again be in the red, this time to the tune of at least $450 billion, according to Sunday's New York Times . While defense and homeland-security spending will rise, Bush plans to curb the growth in outlays on many domestic programs, such as housing vouchers for the poor, job training and research at the National Institutes of Health. The move is aimed at pleasing fiscal conservatives, who are irate over the new $400 billion Medicare program. But while the Republicans of old might have shaken their heads at the growing deficit -- remember, less than a decade ago they pushed to balance the budget -- today's GOP doesn't think it's a problem. The Congressional Budget Office has warned that, with baby boomers retiring, the nation could face an economic crisis. Only if somebody decides to cut spending dramatically (which won't happen because of defense...

History Lessons

It's almost the new year, which means that the pre-primary presidential campaign is just about over and that the real race to the White House is set to begin. But before we bid adieu to 2003, let's look back at some of the lessons we've learned from the 2004 Democratic contenders. The first is that the Washington establishment does not a presidential candidate make. Early this year, John Kerry was the presumed front-runner because the party's leaders in Washington thought, and the conventional wisdom held, that he had the best chance of winning. But that didn't take into consideration what the Democratic base actually believed. When voters entered the picture, Howard Dean emerged as the leading candidate. Now, Kerry has had to mortgage his home to lend his campaign money to get through the New Hampshire primary, which he was once a lock to win. Keep in mind, too, that six of the 10 Democratic candidates (including onetime hopeful Bob Graham) now serve in Congress, and that only three...

Embed Rest

During a radio show on which I appeared Friday, a caller said he was upset that ABC News had decided to stop assigning embedded reporters to the presidential campaigns of Carol Moseley Braun, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton. My question is: Why? I understand that it's important to hear from all nine presidential candidates so that voters can make informed decisions before next month's Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. But Braun, Kucinich and Sharpton have been little more than entertaining sidekicks in the campaign so far and haven't proved themselves worthy of significant press attention. Each of these three candidates has had his or her moment in the media spotlight. Braun's campaign made news this summer when the National Organization for Women (NOW) endorsed her, prompting The New York Times editorial page to note that NOW's move was little more than a symbolic gesture for a candidate on a "personal quest" to restore her reputation and "return to the limelight." Sharpton won...

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